MONTROSE, N.Y. – For the first time in 15 years, the Hendrick Hudson High School Sailors football team will welcome a new head coach. Mike Lynch, who acted as co-head coach in the 2011 season, will take over as head coach in the 2012 season.
"Coach [Paul] Natale did a great job of letting his staff do their own thing," Lynch said. "I'm more hands-on with our coaching staff and also with our players."
Lynch said the biggest challenge for Sailors football this year is the lack of depth in the offensive line. Only seven players have offensive positions on the varsity team, and Lynch's up-tempo, no-huddle playing style keeps students on their toes.
"It's very high tempo. Every practice we're moving around," said Ed Tandy, 17, one of two quarterbacks. "Coach Lynch makes the players more involved. We have more classroom talks."
"There's only six or seven of us," Ben Schwartz, 17, an offensive lineman, said about challenges this season. "It's been hard."
Natale, the 15-year head coach, and 42-year coach of soccer, baseball and football, was honored in May by the district. Natale's legacy is one of a disciplinarian and a polarizing figure.
"Coach Natale was the type of guy that if you work your butt off, you won a place on the team," said Joseph "Jody" Carroll, owner of the infamous Firedogs hot-dog truck, which is intermittently parked across the street from Hen Hud High. Carroll graduated in 1978 and was coached by Natale
"Did he yell and scream? Yes, he did, and, as I told him, it made me a better person in the military and career fire service, because nobody is whispering when work needs to get done," Carroll said.
Bearing out the idea that Natale was a "disciplinarian," as Carroll called him, are his reviews on the website "RateMyTeachers.com." Reviews alternate between five stars, the highest rating, and one star, the lowest. He is reviewed as a "Great gym teacher and awesome coach" by one user, and "the meanest person" by another.
The longtime coach was honored in May, after his retirement.